Gov. Bill Haslam wants to know 'why' proposed lottery-scholarship changes favor home-schoolers

Gov. Bill Haslam wants to know 'why' proposed lottery-scholarship changes favor home-schoolers

March 6th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said he "needs to understand why" efforts to toughen eligibility requirements for state lottery-funded college scholarships appear to favor home-schooled students over pupils attending traditional public and private schools.

The governor told reporters he only learned of the differences from news accounts this week.

"I would need to understand what the reason is for the distinction, which I haven't heard yet," Haslam said.

Senate Republicans say tougher eligiblity requirements are necessary to save the lottery, which is spending some $17 million to $19 million annually out of its reserve fund to meeting scholarship obligations.

The Senate GOP bill requires traditional students in school settings to have at least a 21 composite score on their ACT and have a 3.0 grade point average. Currently, they must have one or the other. Home-schooled students have always been subject to just the 21 on the ACT.

Grade-point averages have never been a Hope Scholarship qualifying option for home-schooled students since their parents track and report their children's grades.

Senate Republicans changed a provision in the original bill that required home-schooled pupils to score a 23 on their ACT, leaving it at 21. That's unfair, Democrats like Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga charge.

Halam said "one of the things, whether it be home school, a private school, a charter school, I think we want to encourage choice, but we're moving toward increased accountability. And I think that should be true of everyone."